Parkdale Methodist Church, King St. West & Dunn Ave., SE corner, circa 1910.


QUITE WITHOUT QUALIFICATION the biggest, most important church in Parkdale until just after WW2. A pretty standard Richardsonian Romanesque temple; massive and imposing, but strangely playful when it was well done. In Toronto's architectural language, R-R meant establishment, venerable, and above all, respectable. Old City Hall, Victoria College at the University of Toronto, and countless mansions, office and hospital buildings, and churches were built in this style, almost without exception in Toronto's signal materials: red brick and red sandstone.

The Methodist church was, more than the Presbyterians, surprisingly more than the Anglicans, and considerably ahead of the Roman Catholics, the establishment church of Toronto and, by extension, most of English Canada, from the second half of the 19th century until the 1920s. In 1926, the Methodists combined with the Congregationalist and a few of the Prebyterian churches into the United Church of Canada and, imperceptibly, from that moment on, their decline began.

By the early 70s, Parkdale United was holding masses with no more than a couple of dozen parishioners, and the building was in sore need of repairs.